Karlovy Vary is the main city of the spa region of Czech Republic. I must admit I had not heard of it before visiting the area! Now that I have been there I cannot believe that such a stunning and interesting town has quite a low profile. So there is a great opportunity to experience this delightful town before everyone else!
Natural springs were discovered in the area in the 14th century and visitors have been flocking to Karlovy Vary ever since to experience the healing powers of these natural springs. The waters in the area are particularly high in a load of good chemicals and minerals and there is considerable scientific evidence of the benefits of “taking the waters”.
Karlovy Vary is also the home of one of the biggest film festivals in the world. It is held every July and attracts some serious Hollywood royalty. As if that wasn’t enough the town was also used in the filming of the James Bond film Casino Royale!
Karlovy Vary can be easily visited as a day trip from Prague but is best enjoyed with an overnight stay.
Here are the five best things to do in Karlovy Vary:
Take the waters of Karlovy Vary
Experts say that it takes a minimum of three weeks of taking the waters before an effect can be expected. The waters are consumed through a combination of drinking and bathing. For those that don’t have three weeks to spend in Karlovy Vary the spa experience can still be enjoyed.
For drinking the waters the place to go is the Mill Colonnade. Once you arrive to purchase a spa cup. These essentially look like a teacup of sorts but are more closed at the top and have a sort of inbuilt straw. The waters are generally warm to hot thus the need for a handle and ceramic.
Once you have your cup you can try all the different springs that are populated along the Colonnade. The Colonnade was created to allow people to walk along and drink the different waters.
Next up is bathing! There are quite a few places that offer baths and other spa treatments. However, the place to go is the Hotel Imperial. The hotel opened in 1912 and is perched on the top of Karlovy Vary. It has extensive spa and treatment options on the menu.
2. Enjoy the view
Not only does Hotel Imperial have fantastic spa facilities it also boasts some of the best views of the picture-perfect town of Karlovy Vary. And if you’re feeling weary you can even catch a funicular up and back to the hotel from the centre of town!
3. Stay at Grand Hotel Pupp
If the Hollywood angle of Karlovy Vary appeals to you then this is where you will want to stay! This 228 room hotel is pure luxury! It is also the host of the annual film festival and was featured in Casino Royale!
Each room is individually designed. The park side rooms are more modern and expressive. The riverside rooms are more traditional. However, they all feature very high-end materials and all the mod cons you would expect from a top end hotel. As the hotel is right in the middle of town the riverside rooms have fantastic views. The hotel even has a casino AND a theatre!
The hotel, of course, has a spa and a clinic. The spa is a whopping 1300 square meters. It contains a 15-metre relaxation pool with smaller specialist pools. Most impressive is the meditation pool which even has underwater music! Once you’ve enjoyed one or more of the pools next up are the options of a Finnish sauna, herbal steam, herbal bath, ice fountain or even a salt cave!
There is also a modern fitness centre.
The hotel has two restaurants, two bars and a cafe. I had a rather amazing buffet breakfast at Grand Hotel Pupp with fantastic food in luxury surrounds.
This is a hotel that you will always remember!
4. Stroll the streets
Karlovy Vary is ridiculously cute! One of my favourite things that I did there was just walking its lovely lovely streets. The best place to start is along the Tepla river. This little river runs through town creating small bridges and a canal like look.
There was even a restaurant that has its tables across the bridge! There is some stunning architecture – a mix of Baroque and Art Nouveau. You’ll see the Holy Trinity Column, the Hygeia Statue and the Saint Mary Magdalene Church.
Stop and try a Karlovy Wafer. These rather large wafers are served with sugar powder and are a traditional snack. After that, you may well need a drink so pop into 170-year-old distillery Becherplatz. You can choose from the famed Becherovka liqueur or Karel 1V beer. Kaffee magazin serves coffee. And if you’re still hungry I had a fantastic goulash at their restaurant!
5. Visit the Moser Museum
Moser has been providing glassware for royals around the world for 160 years. They use a unique colourless glass that is heavier than lead crystal. This is then combined with skills in art, colour and handicraft that have been passed down through the generations.
The Moser museum is in Karlovy Vary and allows visitors to see some of its oldest pieces as well as more recent collections. A video is on hand to explain the whole process and there is also an audio tour option. And of course, there is a gift shop!
Karlovy Vary is a gorgeous town and a perfect day trip from Prague if you are short on time – or go and take the waters for a few days and relax in beautiful surrounds!
Amanda OBrien is Owner of The Boutique Adventurer. The Boutique Adventurer focusses on luxury adventures in emerging destinations that end with a high thread count on the sheets in the evening.